Zodiac are one of the most underrated bands on the planet. Bold statement, but I have so much love for them. I have wanted to speak with them since they released Sonic Child back in 2014, so I was thrilled to talk to bassist Ruben about their excellent latest album Grain of Soul, their influences, touring, and their future plans.
Jack: Hi, thanks for taking the time to speak to me. How are you doing?
Ruben Claro (Bass/Organs/Backing Vocals): Hi Jack, I am doing alright, I hope you’re fine, too!
Jack: I’m not too bad. Your excellent new album Grain of Soul will be released on the 29th of July. Are you ready to unleash the album on the world?
Ruben: Yes! We are all very excited and we can’t wait for people to hear it! It’s going to be a heavy one! We just played a small warm-up show for friends and fans in our hometown and the reactions were really good so far!
Jack: The album to me sounds grungier and heavier than Sonic Child. Why is this?
Ruben: There is no special reason for the heavier sound. When we started working on the new material last year, we knew very soon that this one was going to be heavier. It wasn’t planned. It never is! But it was a process that felt really natural to us and we stuck with it. Rock music of the ’90s was omnipresent when we grew up and we can’t deny that it shaped us musically. And since we never considered us being a retro rock band we had no problem at all in doing a record like this one.
Jack: To me there is a strong Soundgarden and Pearl Jam influence on this album. Are these bands important to you?
Ruben: Sure, those bands were and still are important to us! It was the voice of the youth and the sound of protest! You can reach people with music and that’s so beautiful about it, right?
Jack: What bands would you say are the strongest influence on this album?
Reuben: Influences are definitely bands such as Soundgarden and Alice in Chains amongst others. But also Hendrix and the bands who have influenced us on previous albums.
Jack: What was the recording process like?
Reuben: The recording process was very intense and exciting! Arne, the producer, did an amazing job! We met in our rehearsing room weeks before entering the studio. He played an important role and helped us a lot shaping the sound. We started every day around nine or ten in the morning recording drums and finished with vocals at about one and sometimes two o’clock in the morning. It was different to the other productions, but a great experience!
Jack: Again you’re releasing the album on Napalm Records. What is it like working with Napalm?
Reuben: Napalm has been very good to us! We are very happy and privileged to be with them.
Jack: You released a video recently for “Animal”. What is the song about?
Reuben: “Animal” is a very important song to us with a message that couldn’t be more timeless unfortunately. It’s a shame what’s going in the world! At some point I can’t believe that humanity can be so ignorant and so stupid. I am not perfect for sure, no one is, but I always treat people, regardless where they come from, and other beings, as I wish to be treated. When did empathy and compassion disappear in this society? We missed the turning point already and the future for humanity is very questionable. We are more focused in achieving what is good for our personal life and feeding our ego, than looking after each other and try to make this planet a better place. Money, consumption, power… we are longing for the wrong things! But it is so deep in our social values that we can’t escape it. This is what we are stating in the song.
Jack: You’re doing an album release show in July. Will you be playing the album in full?
Reuben: We will play two release shows. One in Münster on the release day and one day later in Berlin. We will be playing almost every song from Grain of Soul. There are some songs we won’t be playing but this is just because we are also playing other songs people want to hear at a Zodiac concert.
Jack: Would you like to play an album in full in the future?
Reuben: I have never thought about that to be honest. Why play songs from a single album when you have more material? We want to play the songs people got to know us by. But we will give it a thought!
Jack: A lot of bands seem to be playing albums in full. Why do you think this is?
Reuben: Do they? I would say to promote the album in the first place, of course. But since we haven’t done it, I can’t tell you.
Jack: You’re touring throughout September and October. What is the best thing about touring?
Reuben: A great thing about touring for me is meeting new people, making friends, being in cities I haven’t been before, but also cities a have already been. And, I don’t know why, but I love staying at hotels!
Jack: For many musicians, touring is physically and mentally challenging. Do you find it to be that?
Reuben: Yes it is! You are away from home and the only way to see your family is through Skype or just by calling them. Then you have the same people around you and it is just natural that you wish to have more space at some point or just being alone. And that’s not that simple. But you get used to it and playing shows every night is the best reward you can get!
Jack: Will you be playing mainly material from Grain of Soul for the tour of a mixture?
Reuben: We will be playing mainly Grain of Soul material, but like I said before: playing older songs is a must. Talking about old songs, we are actually playing at least one song from our 2011 EP. It’s a special treat for our fans!
Jack: When do you plan on coming to the UK?
Reuben: We want to come back to the UK as quickly as possible! We have only played London when in the UK. Hopefully there will be some news about that in the near future.
Jack: Finally, you’re from Münster in Germany. What is the scene like in Germany?
Reuben: There is a big diversity in music in the whole country! You find everything from jazz to metal! Music culture is really big here.
Jack: Thanks for your time and have a good tour!
Reuben: Thank you, too! Take care!